5 Tips for Staying Active with Diabetes
Posted on: 28 August 2018 by Larissa James
Getting older we need to learn how to manage better our health issues. Diabetes is quite wide spread and is on focus for many.
Exercise is an important component of health -- regardless of whether or not a person has been diagnosed with diabetes. However, for someone with diabetes, implementing an exercise regimen may lead to improvement in insulin usage, better blood sugar control, weight loss, and improved overall health. According to the CDC, an adult with diabetes should aim to fit in at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. It’s important to speak with your diabetes care team or doctor before beginning to exercise, so that they can advise you on the best way to exercise for your particular diagnosis.
Staying active is important with diabetes, and to improve your chances for success, keep these tips in mind:
- Check your blood sugar.
The most important aspect of an exercise plan for someone with diabetes is to check your blood sugar before and after exercise. Physical activity can affect the way that the body uses insulin and causes blood sugar levels to drop, so it’s important to monitor blood sugar levels and take necessary measures to prevent a dangerous hypoglycemic (low blood glucose) or hyperglycemic (high blood glucose) event if your levels look like they might fall out of range.
Your doctor will be able to instruct you about what readings to worry about when physically active. If you’re using insulin therapy, they may recommend an insulin pump with integrated continuous glucose monitoring to more easily track insulin levels and carry fewer devices when exercising. There are advanced systems that use modern touchscreens and that integrate with CGMs that don’t require a fingerstick for operation. Monitoring trends in blood sugar before and after exercise can allow you to get a better idea about how your body responds to increased activity and help you to take precautions in the future.
- Listen to your body.
Don’t forget to listen to your body whenever exercising with diabetes and always look out for symptoms of low blood sugar (excessive irritability, sweating, fatigue, or trembling). Your doctor will be able to better advise on what you should look out for and how-to best care for your body when you’re starting to get more active. It’s important to start slow and stop immediately if anything doesn’t feel right or hurts. If you push yourself too hard, you risk injury and discouragement. Make sure to give yourself ample time to work up to your goals instead of wearing yourself too thin too soon. Remember that this is a lifestyle change, not a short-term solution.
- Make active choices.
It’s great to be proactive about increasing your activity levels. You can do this in several ways: set goals, climb the stairs instead of taking the escalator, take your dog for a walk, clean your house, or work in a bonus lunchtime walk. There are many small ways you can choose to be more active -- brainstorm and research ideas, and the results might surprise you!
- Choose the right kind of exercise.
Not everyone has to be a triathlete! When living with diabetes, it’s important to get the right kind of exercise for you. Certain conditions can come about as a result of diabetes (like neuropathy or retinopathy) and these can require a workout plan adjusted specifically for the patient. It’s important to speak to your doctor to discuss your personal health history, physical fitness level, and what kinds of exercise are safest for you.
- Have Fun
If you aren’t having fun, then you won’t want to stick with any routine. Find ways to make physical activity fun by changing up the kind of exercise, trying new things, inviting a friend along, and trying not to take it too seriously. Drink plenty of water, get out there, and enjoy yourself!
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